Friday 10 Jan 2020 We took a day’s rest from the train travel in order to further explore Bucharest, particularly given that we may never return (a thought that is under serious reconsideration after today’s experience).
After breakfast we headed to the Casa de Bilete at the Gara da Nord (Christine is fascinated by the obvious close links that Romanian has with French and Italian) to book our tickets for tomorrow’s journey across Bulgaria. Here we “enjoyed” what many will think of as typical Communist era service with the lady insisting on completing punching holes in a large pile of papers before she deigned to serve these pesky foreign customers who were interrupting her very important task of filing. It must be said that this is a complete contrast to most of our experience here where waiters and shop assistants have been very helpful and generally excellent at English.
This task completed, we headed back towards the historic centre (which we had briefly passed through yesterday) by way of Cismigiu Garden which was rather nice apart from the drained lake and the semi derelict restaurant in the middle. The centre has many fine buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries but we also found the tiny Stavropoleos church dating back to 1724 which has an incredibly ornate wooden interior and lovely carved doors.
After a couple of hours wandering and sustained by coffee/hot chocolate and slices of pizza (costing less than £1 – Romanian prices are in the very affordable band) we headed north to Herastrau Park and the National Village Museum. This was started in the 1930s and has around 100 old houses, churches, windmills and barns from various parts of the country. They were all very different to British buildings with many having steeply sloping, wooden tiled roofs. Most were circled by fences of various types, some of which had their own little roofs as well.
We came back past Bucharest’s equivalent of the Arc de Triomphe (which amusingly translates as Arcul de Triumf in Romanian) and through the embassy quarter to complete a 18km walk around a city which has surprised and charmed us quite unexpectedly.